How to Create a Captivating Setting

Updated: Sep 26, 2020

Welcome to the first of a series of “How To” guides I’m going to be writing over the next few weeks!   In this series, I’ll be making both an infographic and a worksheet/checklist to go with each blog as well!

First up, “How to Create a Captivating Setting!”


How to Create a Captivating Setting

Use the following 5 tips to create a setting that immerses and captivates your readers!


The feel of your setting should match the intended mood of your story.  

Scary story?  Then you need a spooky setting.  Action story?  You need a bustling setting with lots of potential for activity and movement, like a city or crowded apartment building (rather than a fixed locale like an elevator or one small room).   Sci Fi?  You need a setting that communicates a futuristic or non-mundane world.  Fantasy?  You need sprawling lands of epic proportions to explore.  Your setting should not only fit your genre, but also underpin your story’s overall mood.

PRO TIP: You can BREAK this rule intentionally to use your setting as a contrast for your story’s theme (like a love story happening in a sewer), but only if you are aware of the implications — this is generally best done in a comedy or to create irony.


Does your setting truly play a part in your story?  

The right setting can create endless potential for conflicts and enhancements to your story.  Your character can face challenges presented by weather, geography, lack of resources, and more — if you’ve chosen your setting well.  It can even provide growth opportunity as your character learns to adapt and use the setting to his or her advantage.


Any writer can describe what a setting looks like, but the best writers will convey what it feels, tastes, smells, and sounds like, too.   You want to completely immerse your reader in your world, and that requires a full sensory experience.


Does it leave a distinct and memorable impression?  Does it have unique characteristics that set it apart?  Does it have a valid role in your story and some kind of impact on the plot?  Similar to making your setting matter, envisioning it as a character can help you make it more relevant – and therefore more captivating.


Don't miss out on a chance to deepen your character development and your setting by describing the setting through your characters' impressions of it, rather than just straight physical description. This technique gives you an opportunity to build the mood of the story alongside its setting, and also make the setting feel more relevant to your characters and your story.

These five tips can help take your story’s setting from mundane to memorable.

You can view the full infographic below.  Feel free to share, just please don’t edit out my website name or info… I want people to be able to find the original source!